AEW Star Caught in Trademark Battle With WWE, Loses Wrestling Name

WWE Hall of Famer Billy Gunn has been with All Elite Wrestling as a producer and wrestler since January 2019. But when he popped up on AEW Dynamite this week, fans couldn't help but notice that the announcers and the advertising only ever referred to him as "Billy." According to Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, that wasn't an accident, as Gunn is currently in a trademark dispute with his former company over the rights to his wrestling name. He reportedly owns the trademark for the name, as well as a few trademarks related to his son (Austin Gunn) and their tag team (Gunn Club), but WWE contends that they have ownership to the name since he first got it while working for them as one half of the Smoking Gunns back in 1993.

Reports of WWE being unhappy with Gunn using his old wrestling name first popped up when he started competing on AEW Dynamite. The company has announced he'll face MJF in a singles match next week.

AEW executive vice president and reigning TNT Champion Cody Rhodes faced a similar situation when he first left WWE, and has since wrestled in promotions as just "Cody." He filed the trademark for his full name back in April, though he said in an October interview that he prefers to simply wrestle as "The American Nightmare, Cody."

"The reason I don't use it is because I got so used to being 'The American Nightmare Cody' in Japan. I love that. I love the idea of trying my damndest to get a single name over," Rhodes said back in October. "I got the rub off Dusty and my family long enough. I don't mind not using it."

He then explained in February his mission to win back the WCW trademarks that his legendary father, Dusty Rhodes, had a hand in creating. He's already picked up a few like Bash at the Beach and Slamboree, but the ones he really wants are Starrcade and The Great American Bash.

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"Starrcade and Great American Bash are Dusty's. I would rather have those than a 100 Slamborees," Rhodes said on AEW Unrestricted.

Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of Dusty's passing. Cody tweeted out a tribute to "The American Dream" that morning.

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